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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-321603 C-A-R / Criminal Court Probe Update (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=1/7/2005

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=C-A-R/CRIMINAL COURT PROBE UPDATE (L-O)

NUMBER=2-321603

BYLINE=NICK SIMEONE

DATELINE=WASHINGTON

CONTENT=

/// EDS: UPDATES 2-321598 WITH AUDIO FROM HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH SPOKESMAN ///

HEADLINE: U.N. Criminal Court Investigates Central African Republic

VOICED AT:

INTRO: The government in the Central African Republic has asked the International Criminal Court to look into whether war crimes have been committed in the country during the two-and-a-half years since the U.N. tribunal began operating. Correspondent Nick Simeone tells us U.N. investigators are prepared to head there.

TEXT: The Rome-based court has not yet decided whether legal grounds exist for a full investigation into alleged war crimes to go forward. But it has now begun a preliminary assessment ...

/// SOROKOBI ACT ///

"... in order to determine if there is a reasonable basis to open an investigation."

/// END ACT ///

International Criminal Court spokesman Yves Sorokobi says the government of President Francois Bozize wants the U.N. court to probe suspected abuses that may have been carried out during the rule of his predecessor, Ange Felix Patasse, the man he ousted from power two years ago.

/// SECOND SOROKOBI ACT ///

"Those crimes involve crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of genocide. We would have to identify a series or a certain number of crimes, massacres, killings and things that may fall under the jurisdiction of the court. I believe that the authorities in the Central African Republic suspect that such crimes have been committed and that's why they are asking us to look into that."

/// END ACT ///

The investigation would only go as far back as 2002 when the court's jurisdiction began.

Pascal Kampele of Human Rights Watch Africa points out there were many indications of atrocities in Central African Republic during the period.

/// KAMPELE ACT ///

"There were reports of mass killings, of entire villages burned, of houses burned, of ethnically targeted killings and massacres and also a report of cannibalism."

/// END ACT ///

One of the world's poorest nations, the Central African Republic has a long history of human rights abuses carried out under successive military regimes that have ruled the landlocked country since it gained independence from France in 1960. The most infamous ruler was Colonel Jean Bedel Bokassa, who proclaimed himself emperor and presided over a reign of terror in the 1970s that included involvement in torture and cannibalism, charges that ultimately led to his conviction for murder during a trial in 1987 that drew headlines around the world. (SIGNED)

NEB/NJS/RH/PT



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